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Is Steam causing stuttering?

Discussion in 'Games' started by AngryMerchant, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. AngryMerchant

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    I've been on some sort of odyssey in the past week. There were many bumps, double posts, and posting on strange forums, but I might have found something.

    I've been having this issue for over a week, and I think I've finally narrowed it down to Steam somehow being the problem.

    Every couple seconds, I get a stutter. Framerate will drop from 60 or 300 (uncapped Source games) all the way down to less than 30, just for half a second, but enough for me to notice it and disrupt how smoothly the game plays. I tested it with Assassin's Creed II, Batman Arkham City, Half-Life 2, and Team Fortress 2. All of them had stutters/ framerate drops. I've already deleted the Steam folder, completely reinstalled it and reinstalled a couple games, but the problem is clearly persisting. It happens regardless of the video driver being used (currently using the most recent).

    I tried Mirror's Edge installed from a disc, no problem. Mass Effect 3 installed through Origin, no problems either. Add Steam shortcuts to those two games, run them through Steam, same problem as the Steam games. I disabled overlay, which is not an acceptable solution, but it doesn't matter because it did nothing to stop the problem in TF2 or HL2. So, all I can see is that Steam is somehow causing the issue. You might want to say it's a GPU bottleneck issue. Except this computer has had no bottlenecking issues at all in the past 6 months. This is only a recent problem, the past two weeks at most, and GPU and CPU temperatures are normal (30-40C idle, 60C under games).

    Again: Only in games run through Steam, and I've updated/ rolled back video drivers, makes no difference.

    Games not run through Steam, even Origin which has its own resource-sucking properties and its own overlay, are completely fine.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2012
  2. baggpipes

    baggpipes New Member

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    Im assuming you arent playing online??? Could your hard drive be fragged??
     
  3. AngryMerchant

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    It happens online and offline (and I've always turned off Wireless Zero Config, that's a lag issue, not a framerate issue anyway). I've tried it on two separate Windows partitions. And still the problem persists only on Steam. On two completely different hard drives. Somehow.
     
  4. Mathragh

    Mathragh

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    Have you tried heightening the priority of the game, or lowering the priority or steam in taskmanager?
    Its a wild guess, but atleast its something. Also, steam uses flash, its probably not related to your problem at all, but you might want to uninstall flash for a moment to see if it matters.
     
  5. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    If you have a 60Hz monitor, it sounds like when you run Steam it's causing missed refresh cycles (that would explain the drop to 30).
    CPU getting a greater load maybe causing a delay in filling the graphics buffer?
    Just some thoughts.
     
  6. erocker

    erocker Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Those are some fancy thoughts mister! :D

    Really, it sounds logical to me. Not sure what program does it, but there is a way to set the refresh rate to 59Hz and that seems to fix stuttering for many people.
     
  7. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    Bandicam will let you frame lock at 59.

    Fancy thoughts? lol I'm just a northern redneck. Nothing fancy about me. :)
     
  8. Widjaja

    Widjaja

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    Same problem here noticed about th same time as you.

    I think some steam resource is to blame.
    Closing out of steam and launching it again seems to work for me.
    I first noticed this when playing Saints Row 3.
    It was running fine, closed out, looked through my steam friends profiles, looked through steam store then went back into game and the performance was terrible.

    For the issue continues even in DiRT 3 which is a GFWL game until I exit steam and launch it again.

    Also this could be a Windows XP thing as I still play games on XP.
     
  9. AngryMerchant

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    The refresh rate is 60hz. Tried limiting frames to 59 with Bandicam and console commands in HL2, but didn't seem to be of any help. The framerate doesn't drop to 30, it drops anywhere from 20-40, to be more specific.

    The problem doesn't occur in Mirror's Edge or Mass Effect 3 when Steam is running, only when those games are run through Steam. I can have Steam on in the background and it won't impact performance as long as those games aren't using Steam resources.
     
  10. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    Steam syncing with "the cloud" or something? Not sure. I don't have that issue.
     
  11. Widjaja

    Widjaja

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    How do you launch games which are bought with steam without using steam?
     
  12. AngryMerchant

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    I disabled cloud for HL2 and tried it, no difference. This is pretty absurd.

    Games->Add a Non-Steam game to my library.

    Creating a shortcut to Mirror's Edge or Mass Effect 3 and starting from there causes stuttering. Starting from Origin or the desktop/ start menu, no problems whatsoever. I even played both games out of the corner of my eye while watching the Bandicam overlay and didn't experience a single drop, so I'm not imagining it.
     
  13. 99vw New Member

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    What about disabling steam overlay?
     
  14. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    He did disable that as he stated in the OP.
     
  15. baggpipes

    baggpipes New Member

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    What are you doing in the game when the frame rate drops?? Im still kinda inclined to say cpu bottleneck when i first read this... I know that not what you wanted to hear...
     
  16. qubit

    qubit Overclocked quantum bit

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    I've never seen this on my computers, so I can vouch for the Steam client being generally well behaved and doubt that it's the problem here. Heck, it would be pretty damaging to Valve's reputation otherwise, wouldn't it? A few things come to mind that may be causing this:

    - Could be your internet security software, as they don't alway play well with Steam or games. Try disabling it. If it doesn't allow being disabled, temporarily uninstall it. Which one are you running, by the way?

    - Origin: is the exe running at the same time as Steam? Perhaps there's some kind of software polling that's going on which is causing it? Make sure no part of Origin is running

    - You're running XP 32-bit Home. Valve recently announced that they will be dropping support for XP, so perhaps there's some little bug in the client that they can't be bothered to fix? This kind of thing is quite common

    - What other software is running at the same time that might cause a frame rate dip like that? It's certainly not a hardware performance bottleneck, but a software glitch of some kind, for sure

    - Did your PC get a malware infection that you've since cleared up. If so, there could still be fragments of it still running. Nasty. A format and reinstall of the operating system would be required here
     
  17. Aquinus

    Aquinus Resident Wat-man

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    60*C is a little toasty for a C2D (you must be using the stock cooler), are you sure it's not starting to trottle and are you sure that it's not getting hotter than that? I'm assuming that your CPU also isn't over-clocked so it is very possible that you're processor is having trouble keeping up or XP isn't scheduling tasks in a way that will give you maximum performance. Also keep in mind that the C2D doesn't have the memory controller on the CPU, that's controlled by the north bridge on the motherboard, so between heavy CPU usage with the CPU accessing memory and driving the video card it is possible that might cause a slowdown, but it's hard to say.

    Are you monitoring your CPU, memory, vram, and temperatures while you play these games?

    Also 32-bit Windows limits applications to 2Gb of memory for applications due to the limitations of 32-bit, so applications might not even be able to use all 4Gb, even if it isn't all being used. Not to mention that XP doesn't have a very good multi-core scheduler in comparison to Windows Vista and 7.

    Have you considered upgrading to Windows 7 64-bit, because I suspect that might fix a lot of issues, considering not much supports XP anymore (including Microsoft themselves.)
     
  18. baggpipes

    baggpipes New Member

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    Thought this was closer to 3.2 GB.... Very good point here...
     
  19. Aquinus

    Aquinus Resident Wat-man

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    That's total memory available under 32-bit because video cards and other memory mapped I/O devices will use memory space for the device's own memory such as video cards and hardware raid with cache memory. Memory is split into two peices, that which belongs to the OS and that which belongs to applications and under 32-bit these separations makes some blocks of memory unusable. I highly recommend running 64-bit on any machine with more than 2Gb of memory assuming the CPU supports it, but most do nowadays.
     
  20. AngryMerchant

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    I have a Zalman fan, not stock. I haven't checked the CPU cores under load, that's only the GPU temperature. I'm not worried about it overheating.

    Valve is dropping support for XP SP2, not SP3. It would noticeably hinder them to drop XP support entirely, so I doubt they would do that.

    It's not a virus, I just installed this partition 2 days ago. The only security right now is Malwarebytes and whatever security Windows has, so it could be that.
    Origin is never running in the background when playing Steam games. It runs in the background during Mass Effect 3 because it has to, but not when I'm in TF2 or anything.

    I've definitely considered Windows 7, and I would prefer to get that done before upgrading anything else. But I don't know how to get it for a good price. Even though I'm a college student, those deals have probably expired if my school had them to begin with, but I'd still feel ridiculous paying $200 for retail Windows 7.
     
  21. Wastedslayer

    Wastedslayer

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    Try to find someone thats getting rid of just keys, I bought a legit ultimate key on here for 80$. Been using it since 7 came out :)
     
  22. Aquinus

    Aquinus Resident Wat-man

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    I regularly see Windows 7 x64 Home Premium for 100 USD and Professional for 130 USD on NewEgg. If your an IT/CompSci student you should be able to get Pro for free from the MSDNAA since most schools have it.
     
  23. Hilux SSRG

    Hilux SSRG

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    Maybe it's Steam updating in preparation for the SUMMER SALE !!

    Sorry, I wish I had a better answer... Uninstall Steam and see what happens?
     
  24. baggpipes

    baggpipes New Member

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    Maybe a setting like vsync or triple buffering?
     
  25. AngryMerchant

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    Well that was a nightmare. I got Windows 7 for $80 and am trying it later.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012

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